Tournament Director at the 47th European Bridge Championships

For those of you who don't know I'm a certified international bridge judge (or tournament director as it's called in bridge.) I enjoy the work very much and look forward to the competitions. I have judged at a number of international championships. (see list).
This year the European Teams Championships were at Malmo, in Sweden.For the most part the facilities for the Championships this year were very good, with spacious areas. The big drawback as far as the officials were concerned was that our hotel was far from the venue. There was supposed to be a shuttle, but it didn't work too well and the hours were inconvenient. The bus option involved two buses and taxis are expensive. So I rented a bike. It was so old and broken down that they didn't take a deposit for it - in fact they didn't even ask my name. I paid €30 for the two weeks and they told me to return it when I'm finished. I was given a simple lock but I don't think anyone outside of Beer Sheva would ever dream of stealing it. No gears of course, large shopping basket on the front, and foot brakes only. The first time going on the slight downhill I sort of subconsciously pedalled backwards and nearly went flying over the handlebars. Anyhow it was a bike, and it took 15-20 minutes to ride from the hotel to the bridge venue. There were 8 of us with bikes and after the games we hit the town, all biking together to some restaurant or other. Biking was easy, no hills and many cycle paths or streets reserved for buses,taxis and bikes.The downside was that it rained nearly every day, but a good raincoat and waterproof trousers more or less took care of that.

It was quite an experience being in Sweden over Midsummer night - the longest day of the year. At 10:30 at night we could still read by the light of the sun and the sky was light until well after 11. Then at about 3am the sun comes up again, with light streaming through the windows. There was a special carnival with maypoles etc to celebrate Midsummer Day and it was an "off" day from bridge. It was raining so hard that we decided to go to Copenhagen instead.(30 minutes by train.) We cycled to the train station, left our bikes in good company, and went to Copenhagen, where it also rained all day. No visit to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to the mermaid, and we duly trudged there in the rain.A lousy lunch and a mediocre supper rounded out a not very successful day.

The championships took place at the same time as the European Football Cup in Lisbon. Most nights we watched the football matches, with vociferous supporters all around us. The countries playing in the football were well represented among the directors, and we were careful to go easy with  a director whose country had just lost a crucial match. Our favorite venue was Lille Torg, the "little square" which was conveniently situated about halfway between the bridge and the hotel, and which had a large variety of restaurants with large screen TVs to watch the matches. We ate Indian, Chinese, Greek, Italian, American, French, Thai but the food was not very good and expensive. Our best meals were an excellent traditional Swedish Smorgasbord, and (most surprisingly) the meal given in our honor (together with tradition Swedish guards) by the Malmo Municipality.

Bridge-wise everything was fine, no special problems. Physically the work was not exacting, but the hours were long. We had some interesting rulings to make, and I made a note of them for the next directors' study day in Israel. All of the directors know each other (3 of them were from the last certification course in Italy where I was an instructor), and get on very well together. We always consult on the more difficult points, and the standard of the judging was very high. In bridge, where many of the rulings are based on judgement, there is an appeal procedure, and the fact that there were fewer appeals at these championships than at any other is, among other factors, a measure of the competence of the tournament directors. Here I am discussing some tricky point with Jan boets of Belgium, and with  Maurizio di Saccho of Italy.

Israel's results were in the middle. The Women's team were the most successful. They started off slowly but recovered well and with a late spurt finished 5th (out of 26) to qualify to be one of Europe's five representatives at the next world championships. The open team consisted of young, inexperienced players and not much was expected of them. They played very well, and for much of the tournament hovered around 8-10 place (out of 34) which was a very pleasant surprise. They faltered a little towards the end and ended up a very creditable 13th place. The big disappointment was the Seniors team. The players are well experienced internationals and individually excellent bridge players. We had thought they would be serious contenders for a medal but they finished 9th (out of 16) at the halfway stage and didn't qualify for the 8 team final A. Although they won final B handily this was not much compensation as we had expected better from them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time in Malmo, and even a delay of 6 hours at the airport on the trip back, and a lost suitcase (later found opened and torn) couldn't detract from the experience.

There are two more Malmo pictures in the "This Week's Picture" archives.

My next major tournament is at Brighton in England in August, where I will be the chief director of the Seniors pairs and teams competitions.

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